Israel’s attorney general won’t release Netanyahu tapes during police investigation


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s attorney general said that releasing recordings of conversations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the publisher of an Israeli newspaper could obstruct the ongoing police investigation into possible corruption.

The attorney general, Avichai Mandleblit, said during a speech Monday at the Netanya Academic College that he would consider releasing the tapes at a later date, however, due to their public significance.

Netanyahu is being investigated in two separate cases. In one, he and Yediot Acharanot publisher Arnon Mozes allegedly discussed  a deal in which Netanyahu would receive favorable coverage in Yediot in exchange for legislation that would cut the circulation of the free Hebrew-language daily Yisrael Hayom.

Excerpts of the tapes have been aired daily since last week by Israel’s Channel 2. The tapes were discovered during an investigation into Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow.

In the other case, Netanyahu allegedly received gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from wealthy businessmen. The Israeli leader says they were gifts from friends.

Netanyahu slammed the investigation late Sunday in a Facebook post, which he called “A media campaign, unprecedented in scope, orchestrated to overthrow the Likud-led government which I head.” The campaign, he said, is designed “to pressure the attorney general and the police into indicting me for no reason.”

He added that “as long as the investigation continues, I can’t defend myself. I can’t tell the public the real story behind the tapes” that shows that there was no wrongdoing.”

“I intend to continue leading the country,” Netanyahu also said.

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